I pressed return too soon, excuse my spelling.... I want to be clear that I am currently not a bean to bar maker, because of the immense cost and labour, but I am in another unknown category using powder, paste and butter to make my own chocolate. I am powdering coconut sugar in a vitamix, but find it still have graininess. I am trying to decide if I should purchase a conching machine as well as a temperer. thanks And also if a conching machine is the same thing as a melanger?
I don't know if i'm qualified to reply or give advice considering how little experience i have with making chocolate compared to the others on this forum
I am experimenting with bean to bar currently and have discovered that a wet stone grinder(widely available here in India and not too expensive. I got mine for Rs4200 which works out to roughly USD80 ) does a very good job of both refining and conching.
You can certainly "reconstitute" cocoa powder and cocoa butter with sugar (and other ingredients) to make chocolate. You do not have to start from liquor or mass.
You will need something to mix the ingredients together, get the particle size down, make sure that any clumps of particles (called agglomerates) are broken up, and that the particles are completely covered in fat. Some flavor development may also be necessary.
I do know people who just melt the cocoa butter, mix in (by hand) the cocoa powder, and add a non-crystalline sweetener (e.g., agave syrup). In this case, they do not use a melangeur/conche.
However, if you are using a crystalline sugar (e.g., white, evaporated cane juice), then you will need a grinder to get the texture right.
thanks, i got a melanger from cocaotown and I'm very happy with the results. Much smoother than before.
Beth and Clay,
If you don't mind sharing, what's your experience with conch times for batches? I am using a friend's machine at the moment and at doing about 8lb batches I am conching for about 3 hours. Just curious as to what others are doing. Any and all input appreciated.
howdy, if by conching you mean grinding the sugar in and blending all ingredients then it takes around 3-4 hrs if all goes well. I am using coconut sugar and dealing with humidity issues which can make the sugar clump and slow the process alot. I am not sure if what I am doing is conching. I am not grinding the actual beans. I am also doing around 8 lb batches and using a cocoatown melanger. I am maxing it out and hope it won't hurt the machine over time. peace, Beth
Hi Beth, I had also made chocolate using coconut sugar instead of table sugar. The humidity issues must be dealt with before the sugar comes in contact with the cocoa or the shelf life and finishing of the final product will be compromised. Are you facing this challenge?
yes, I am using dessicant cans to suck moisture out of the bucket of sugar and then I powder and grind the sugar into the rest.
What dessicant cans have you found to be effective?
I am using a reuseable metal canister type with indicator silica gel. I am actually trying to reorder them but I am having trouble finding where I previously ordered from. If i figure it out I'll let you know.
are you grinding in the sugar and if so what machine do you use? I am struggling with my cocoatown melanger and it can't seem to keep up with my small batches of 10 lbs. I am trying to figure out what to invest in and don't have many other people to discuss the use of that sugar and get the equipment I need.
To really oversimplify things cocoa nib (what's left after roasting, cracking, and winnowing need to be:
on their way to becoming chocolate.
Nibs are ground into chocolate liquor and there are no other ingredients added. The result is a coarse, often gritty paste with a wide particle-size distribution with particles often in the 60-120 micron range, but this can vary widely.
The liquor then gets refined down to a point where the particle size distribution is in the 12-20 range. During refining other ingredients are added - sugar, milk, and vanilla. If you are using any form of crystalline sweetener you are going to need to refine it before conching.
Once the chocolate is refined, it is conched. Conching has both a physical component (improvement in texture) but also a flavor development component. There are two stages in conching. Dry (no added cocoa butter) and wet (after cocoa butter and/or lecithin are added).
A melanger (or melangeur) like a CocoaTown or Santha is technically being used as a "universal." Universals are called that because they handle all three stages - grinding, refining, and conching in a single device.
Devices like the CocoaTown were not developed for making chocolate originally. They were made for grinding soaked beans, such as lentils, into pastes. That's why they are called wet grinders. They look a lot like old-style melanguers and so they were adapted for that purpose.
You don't have to use the wet grinders as universals. You can pre-grind the nib and sugar to reduce the amount of time required to mix and refine them together in the wet grinder. Likewise, you can remove the chocolate from the wet grinder when it is refined and put it into a device that is designed specifically for conching.
The CocoaTowns and Santhas are used because they are relatively inexpensive (at least to get started) and relatively easier to understand and to use. They are not used because they are the best, or even good, ways to make chocolate. It is possible to get "real" universals of about the same capacity as a CocoaTown 65 for about the same price that will be able to go from nib to finished chocolate in under 24 hours.
It is (now) possible to buy a conche that will do in 2-4 hours what it takes a CocoaTown 65 48 hours or more to perform. The price is about 50% higher than a CocoaTown 65 for roughly the same capacity.